California's non partisan Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) just released a report that both praises and criticizes Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to reform public pension benefits. Brown’s proposals to combine the existing guaranteed benefits with a 401(k) type plan and to raise the retirement age for future employees from 55 to 67 was lauded by the LAO.
The LAO was less pleased with the governor's plan to require existing workers to pay more into their own pension funds. They called that "a legal and collective bargaining minefield," and pointed out that altering benefits for current works would be "difficult, perhaps impossible" to do.
Whether existing public pension benefits can be modified is a question that remains unanswered. Republican activists who want to curb the cost of public employee benefits have proposed two possible ballot measures that would address this issue. Both would require current workers to pay more into their retirement plans. The governor’s plan will be reviewed by the legislature on Dec. 1.
What impact will this report have on lawmakers' assessment of the Brown plan? And how likely is it that any plan can make it past the voters?
Jason Sisney, deputy legislative analyst with the Legislative Analyst Office, and author of the report.